There can be many reasons for choosing a particular career. It might meet with your intellectual interests and native talents. It is an area of work that is becoming more necessary and more in demand. It has a large impact on your community and the world at large. It is satisfying to you personally and helps you to accomplish your personal, family and community goals. If these are some good reasons to choose a career, what is bad reason for choosing a career? Choosing a career because you think it will make you rich, famous or a combination of both.
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While being rich and famous are certainly not inherently bad, using them as the sole, driving criteria in your career choices is nearly a sure road to failure, frustration and financial ruin. When you are chasing the rainbow of fame and fortune, you ignore the better reasons for choosing a career. You begin to make choices based on dollars and cents instead on fundamental human needs like happiness, security and health.
A far better approach is to a choose a career you truly desire and seek out fame and fortune within that career. If you have a deep love and interest in a career, then you will produce your best work and increase your chances of success. You’ll work longer, harder and better than you ever would — or even could — on a lesser career. When you don’t love your career, you are simply putting in time, doing what you think needs to be done and not really accomplishing anything beyond providing for your basic monetary needs.
I am sure you know people personally who have decided that a job or career they hate is worth the money (and perhaps, notoriety) they gain. Look closely, though, and you will notice that they always complain about being too busy, too tired, or too fat. They themselves know that something is wrong, but they have no idea how to change things or escape the cycle that traps them in a career they dislike. It is obvious that they know their situation because they are constantly talking about the bad aspects of their career and talk very little about the enjoyable parts. They use vacations to exotic locales as an escape from their career — a place to avoid their work entirely for a short period of time. They try to escape, but quickly find that their work invades every aspect of their life, including their vacations.
When you decide to run the rat race that is fame and fortune, you are also in danger of becoming what we in the writing world describe as a person that doesn’t want ‘to write’ but rather wants to ‘have written.’ This person wants all the trappings of success while doing as little as possible. They will often admit to actively hating the work that their career requires. They will dream of future success, but yet do little to actually accomplish that success. They will talk for hours about “the book I’m going to write” but then fail to write even one page. For them, dreaming of the successful career they want to have is much more pleasurable than actually accomplishing it.
While I may see more than my fair share of this type of person here in Los Angeles, I believe they exist everywhere and in every possible type of work. Years ago, when IT was “the place” to have a career, I would often talk with people from all aspects of life who would tell me they were going to move into IT. When I questioned them about whether they actually liked dealing with technology, most responded that they didn’t care. They were going where the money was. They didn’t want to learn about DOS, network servers, Internet routers or deal with angry customers whose computer wasn’t working. They instead saw themselves as the manager (or even better, owner) at a large company with many minions at their control to deal with the “real work.”
I am fond of saying that, “Money should never be the sole reason for doing anything” and it applies to your career, too. Your potential earning, your potential fame, your potential power should never be the sole reason for choosing a career. Careers take hard work, a lot of learning and, at their core, a certain amount of love for the work. Without these, it is very likely you will wake up in 10-15 years poor, unknown and bitter that you never achieved the career your desired so much. Spend your time working towards a great career doing something you love and avoid the terrible career hangover you might experience down the road.